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  • Haydn Wheeler

"Great oppression's, Cruel plunders" and The Commons.

Updated: Nov 20, 2020


Back Cover of the 1st Clash LP, The Clash

Growing up and as a teenager through the late 70s early 80s, with the dawning of the Thatcher era, The Clash so titled their 1st album as observed by them, the word clash was used to great extent in the news. An ideological, and in many ways a physical Civil War was playing out, minus the cannonball and powder-flash.

The image from the back cover of the 1st Clash album showing a scene from the Notting Hill riots of 76 was very much how it felt when witnessing the news of the day through the TV.

A newsletter, the observations, grievances of a generation said through the track listings of an album and a few demands to take the country to task also.

The idea of association so strong in the County context of the 17th Century had given way to Unionism, a concept of belonging was now identified though certain sections in a County or Country and not as an association of all. A generality of freedom and access to The Commons is now seen as a protection inside that Commons from the plunderers of our Commons. A reaction against a loss of and a protection from. Rights inside the structure put upon the generality. A divide in that generality occurs, hence a need for rights.

Governance always being flexed by a class within its set structures is in itself a road block to change. Monarchy, Parliament a mixture of the three houses for we include the Lords, little has changed in our electoral politics. Shades of difference is a common held perspective.

Our flexible constitution, for it is described as such, bends little when big constitutional change is needed, electoral reform I would argue is long overdue. A resurgence in force of those with a Lilburne (Leveller) mindset maybe in order.

Plunder in form has many. The language may change but the action of remains the same and in some ways written into law. Tax avoidance by off shoring is a now a plunder of a public service. Loss of revenue translates into a funding cut to a public service.

The rush to deregulate the city (sq mile) gave plundering a new lease of life. No moral hazard did apply. We go bust you pay, for it was very much so. The austerity card being played thereafter, a stroke of genius and another plunder, this time of the very public services we had taken as a given and invested in.

No more worded "Social Security" to stop one from falling through a figurative safety-net, where a society sees to draw a line. To see one affected by hardship is a reflection of the all, an association. No, we are now into the language of benefits. What one is entitled to if the governing body at the time sees fitting. Now seen as an extra, a benefit, as a step to lift one up as opposed to a fail safe, one not able to fall below. Where a ruling executive fails to deal with a growing inequality, the lift up argument and the level set at where one has to fall before entitlement is open to manipulation. Social Security as an objective should be the objective.

A fracking rig entering your town where local opposition to the awarding of a contract has been overridden by Government policy, a plunder. Loss of allotments to a property developer, where house prices are set so high as to socially change the dynamics of a township, a plunder.

The Commons, a right to access, partake and gather has a broad meaning. We see this in the new Charter of the Forest of November 6th 2017 re-energised by The Woodland Trust, and now sitting alongside with the original Charter of The Forest of 1217. The new charter is based around a people's movement with stories of trees, the planting of and a signing of support for the new charter. Although very much an endorsement for the partaking of a physical and mental enjoyment of our forests, trees and countryside, and a protection of, the use of gathering stories and the signing of charter was broadly web based. The Commons in meaning focused on a desire, resolution and demand for a securing of our commons by a new Charter of The Forest, by part through the internet highlights the extension of the Commons. The internet is by it's use in creating a new charter is now an extension of that Commons.

Indeed as below as above. The natural root connections across a forest network, for we know see research into symbiotic networks showing these connections, is a reflection of our internet above connections.

The Parlem movement in Spain is of note when considering a commons. The wearing of white, non flag and a neutrality in a division with a demand for talk has a view of generality. New communicating vessels through the internet with a desire for representative politics and not interests stems from seeing a collective, a Commons The Parlem movement ideology is for an inclusive constitutional change. A generality not a section, division of but an all.

Plunder of the commons lives on. We would do well to be vigilant. Said so well in that Springsteen song "Death to my Hometown". Talking of those in Wall St after the financial crash of 2008.

Now get yourself a song to sing. And sing it ’til you’re done. Sing it hard and sing it well. Send the robber barons straight to hell. The greedy thieves who came around, and ate the flesh of everything they found. Whose crimes have gone unpunished now. Who walk the streets as free men now.

Wimborne Allotments, now gone. Sold of for housing development. Roy Wheeler stands beside his shed.

Lord Eversley speaking to the The Open Spaces Society on the 19th July 1915 spoke of the loss of our rights of way, and the need to be vigianant.

"Legislation both in respect of Commons and Rights of Way is urgently needed—a careful watch is still necessary over the predatory instincts of Lords of Manors and others especially in connection with Rights of Way—and Local Authorities need to be stimulated into efforts to preserve their rights".

"The more things change they stay the same"

The demands of the 12,000 Clubmen in March 19th 1645 on the Royalist governor of Hereford, Sir Barnabas Scudamore had come to a head. The oppression of the inhabitants by garrisoned troops had resulted in the demands for "release of the prisoners, compensation for the families of those killed, and that all Royalist soldiers should leave the county"

Being met only in part by the governor, many Clubmen were unsatisfied with their demands not being met. Setting out to Ledbury and a push for a full implementation of their demands was the plan. 2000 Clubmen were now gathered and Prince Rupert had arrived on the scene. After refusing to disperse, Rupert with horse (cavalry) and a thousand foot charged.

200 Clubmen took aim with musket but to no avail. With a full force of war ready troops on them they were soon overrun and most fled. Crushing these last holders out, Rupert's troops went on to hang three of the Clubmen leaders and plunder the parish.

Letters from Massey informed,

"that the discontented Herefordshire men, having laid down their Arms upon Articles with the Princes; afterwards, and contrary to those Articles, the Princes caused three worthy Gentlemen to be executed, who were conceived chief in that Rising".

Another witness to actions that day by Rupert's troops accompanied by Scudamore states.

"plundered everie parish and howse poor as well as others leavinge neyther clothes or provision".

The Clubmen leaders talks with Parliamentarian Colonel Massey at Ledbury, although keeping their neutrality from both warring sides had not gone unnoticed.

Massey withdrew to Ross on Wye in early April of 1645 and took his men out of the garrisoned house of Royalist John Winters in the Forest Of Dean. Now outnumbered by Royalist troops arriving in the area he was now to become an observer of the plunder of the Forest.

The arrival of Prince Rupert and Maurice on the 4th April 1645 and an aim to press men into the Royalist cause "reducing this county for its just obedience to his Majesty." was the call.

8 April 1645, the County Committee reported 'great oppressions, cruel plunders and continual marches and inroads of the enemy lying near and heavy upon us on every side; our county was so extremely exhausted and miserably destroyed that it was even ready to give up the ghost'.

With his 2000 horse and 1,500 foot Royalist Sir Thomas Lunsford entered the lower parts of Monmouth, Chepstow and the Forest of Dean. On orders to press men into service between 16 and 60 many able bodied men fled their homes and went into the forest and mines.

John Corbet wrote, "they plundered the houses to the bare walls, driving all the cattell, seizing upon the persons of men, and sending them captives to Monmouth and Chepstow"

Seeing their country put under sword, and burning of their properties that could quarter a soldier (depriving Massey) and taking of goods.

Lunsford on one episode took back to Monmouth 3,000 head of cattle. On a visit to Brockwear commandeered leather worth £2000 and at Lancaut he seized so much wheat that he was unable to find enough boats to load it onto.

The inhabitants of the Forest and loss of homestead is a an example of displacement forced upon the people during the Civil War.

The burning of property in the pursuit of depriving the use of it by opposing troops shows how refugee status was forced upon the people in the English Revolution. A report from 1646 says of Gloucester (Gloucestershire) the destruction of 241 houses and 1,250 people left homeless, one women with her family were living in a pigeon house.

Reports in news letters at the time talk of parishes being burnt . An example in a letter wrote to Royalist Lunsford by Parliamentarian Colonel Massey who had been garrisoned in the area talks of the actions of troops in the Forest. A description of pillage is told..

Perfect Occurrences April 12th. 1645

They have plundered much about Mansil-hope, Ruardean, Staunton, and the adjacent parts about the Forrest of Deane, and have murdered divers men, women and children - particularly at Longhope, they took away some Gentlemen's children & the like at other townes, & carried them away either to be redeemed by their parents or starve; for some of those children have died under their hands.'

(Perfect Occurrences April 12th. 1645)The 16th Week Tuesday, April 11, 1645.

Also appointed to these events is an account of brutality witnessed by Reverend. Nichols, of an outrage at Drybrook,

"where a householder was struck down and his eyes knocked out, for refusing to give up a flitch of bacon to a foraging party"

Massey himself had destroyed property (set to fire) in Beachley in the cause of depriving Royalist troops a place to quarter. (Pot calling the Kettle black springs to mind.)

With the place (forest) now spent and scourged and the burning of Lydney house by John Winter the owner of so depriving it being garrisoned by Colnol Massey's troops, Ruperts forces headed to Herefordshire.

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